Postal Service will continue with its off-beat advertising

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Postal Service, attempting to slow the migration of first-class mail to electronic communications, says it will stick with an advertising campaign begun in September that tells businesses refrigerators and cork boards can't be hacked.

After losing 22 percent of its mail volume in the past five years, the Postal Service is using the nationwide ads to stem a decline in postage sales, its primary revenue source. It's also looking to plug its budget gap by closing 4,800 post offices, cutting as many as 220,000 jobs and eliminating Saturday mail delivery. The service has said it probably lost $10 billion last fiscal year.

Spending on advertising pays off, said Joyce Carrier, the Washington-based service's manager of advertising and media planning, who declined to say how much the campaign costs. Every 1 percent loss of mail volume equates to a $300 million decline in annual revenue, she said.

"If we can even stop 1 percent — and that's the goal for this campaign, to slow it 1 percent — it's a pretty big chunk of change," she said.

"Hacked" is the second of two ads in a campaign that began in September and will resume after the holidays, Postal Service spokeswoman Darleen Reid said.

It shows customers handling mail by pinning it to a cork board and hanging it up with a refrigerator magnet. "Your refrigerator has never been hacked. An online virus has never attacked a cork board," the voice-over intones.

"Since the beginning of time, there's always been something that people say will be the demise of mail, be it the telegraph or telephone," Carrier said. "We still feel the mail has a place to play in every company's marketing mix."

The campaign, by Campbell-Ewald Co., based in Warren, Mich., will resume after the holiday season when the service will run consumer-oriented television advertising, Reid said.